Aonghas Maxwell, Chloe Robertson and Jack McLuckie are the three members of the band Northern Central. The UK-based band released a four-song EP Imogen, which gives a sample of what this band offers and hopefully points to what we can expect from them in the future.
After Robertson and Maxwell met at an open mic they started play music together. The duo played covers and originals and eventually included McLuckie within the mix. After listening to their EP you can see why they stuck together. It’s doesn’t take long to appreciate the upbeat folk rock this band plays as well as the vocal harmonies Their music has some similarities to bands like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers not only in that it's folk rock but in the hopeful, inspirational sections it shares that make the aforementioned music so popular to the masses.
The EP initially starts sparse with vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar and bells. I enjoyed what I heard but by the two-minute mark I didn’t think I was going to get variation. To my surprise the band shifts the energy by implementing bass, percussion and violin into the mix. The additional layers made the song more dynamic and added another dimension to the band. It’s around the three-minute mark the song peaks with exceptional violin playing and vocal harmonies.
The song is about the reluctance of leaving the student life behind. I’m not sure why anyone would want to perpetually live the life of a student but some people don't want to grow up I guess. The lyrics on the verse are a bit more straightforward while the chorus is a bit more poetic. They sing, “When the cat’s away the mice do play, but they forgot about the dogs. But the best laid plans of mice and men weren’t written by the gods.”
Northern Central hasn’t been around very long as a group and this shows when you get to the track “Cracks and Rhymes.” Bands that have recently formed tend to have a lot of ideas and are still in the process of finding their sound and that’s what you sense when comparing these two tracks. “Cracks and Rhymes” is an instrumental track and sounds more like something that would come from TV On The Radio than a folk rock band. I actually enjoyed the track but from the impending doom vibe towards the end to the dark vocal harmonies it felt very different. In fact if these songs weren't both on the EP I never would have guessed it was from the same band.
“Rest Softly” reverts to the vibe folk rock vibe on “Mice an Men” and is arguably the highlight. It’s an excellent song overall and has anthemic qualities such as when they sing, “I won’t let go, you are my own I’ll let it show, you are my own.” The last song is a remix of the first song and while engaging is not as effective.
Imogen feels like an appetizer. There are some solid songs here with good songwriting, which build a solid foundation. The band does fall into a category of wait and see but I think they should be well on their way from what I heard.
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